Opening letters to musical effect

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From left, Asher Reichman, Louise Keast, Ella Luhtasaari and Naomi Flatman. Photo: Len Power

Music / “Letters: Scribed & Sung”, Canberra Opera Recital. At Wesley Music Centre, May 12. Reviewed by LEN POWER

THERE are arias and scenes from opera in which letters are written or received, so it was an inspiring idea to present a collection of these in a recital.

Principal artist Louise Keast, soprano, joined by associate artists Naomi Flatman, mezzo-soprano; Asher Reichman, tenor and Ella Luhtasaari, piano, presented 10 letter scenes from Italian, French, German and Russian operas.

Louise Keast is no stranger to Canberra audiences having been resident here for some time before moving to regional Victoria. She will make her international debut in Sicily in June as Donna Elvira in Mozart’s “Don Giovanni”.

Swiss-born mezzo soprano Naomi Flatman is a graduate of the Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University and current studio artist with Gertrude Opera Studio in Melbourne.  Tenor Asher Reichman is from Melbourne and has performed with the Australian International Opera Company, XL Arts Inc. and the MSO chorus.

The singers were accompanied on piano by Ella Luhtasaari from Canberra who has performed with the Handel in the Theatre opera company as well as in numerous recitals in the Canberra region.

Louise Keast gave a creditable performance of Violetta’s letter scene from “La Traviata” and was equally effective in Tatiana’s letter scene from Tchaikovsky’s “Eugene Onegin”.

Naomi Flatman sang a very fine “My heart opens to your voice” from “Samson and Delilah” by Saint-Saёns and her performance of the Habanera from Bizet’s “Carmen” showed that she is a strong actress as well as a fine singer. She also gave a moving performance of Charlotte’s letter scene from Massenet’s “Werther”.

Federico’s Lament from Cilea’s “L’arlesiana” was an excellent choice for Asher Reichman who gave a strong singing and acting performance in this scene. He also sang a warm and touching “Tell me about my mother” from Bizet’s “Carmen” in duet with Keast.

In addition, Flatman and Keast sang three duets in this recital very well. The most memorable, and an excellent choice for the recital’s finale, was the very well-known “Flower Duet” from “Lakme” by Delibes.

The accompaniment for the singers by Ella Luktasaari on piano was excellent throughout this enjoyable recital.

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